Taking pictures while traveling can be difficult! Many times taking pictures can get in the way of actually enjoying the experience! Thankfully, experiencing and capturing do not need to be mutually exclusive.
Here are a few tips I've learned along the way. They've helped me not only enjoy my vacations, but capture them in the best way!
1. Get a fitted camera bag. If you are carrying a DSLR, find a bag that fits it perfectly. Meaning, it is ergonomic, snug with your camera body and lens and has a few pockets. There is no need to carry a HUGE backpack or a camera bag with a purse. Condense!!
I use the Lowepro Toploader 65W. It fits my camera body, one lens, a small wristlet (wallet), chapstick, phone, extra battery and extra memory cards. I'm sportin' it here, a recent pic from Disney World:
It's light, provides easy access to my camera, an extra strap to attach another lens if I so desire, and has a jacket just in case some rain hits. It may not be the most stylish purse around, but it's a two for one for me: personal items + camera = happy girl :)
There are times that I do put my camera in a large purse, and simply wrap it in a scarf for protection. I'll mostly do this at night if we are getting all dressed up and I don't want to carry around a camera bag :)
I took this on a train at Busch Gardens. The perfect example, as the person behind me actually asked why I was taking a picture of the next car. ha! little did he know it would turn out to be a really neat picture.
And that brings me here...
3. Unusual Shots. If you are in a place that does not have a lot of people, take advantage of it. Think, "what shots could I get that are original or would make me remember this location in the future?"
Chances are slim that you would be the first to capture a gorgeous sunset or landscape. Thus, you don't need to stress about missing that "perfect shot." (You'll find it on google images or a postcard somewhere anyway!) Instead, take advantage of the not-so-ordinary angles and challenge yourself.
Hang it on your wall and it will always be a conversation starter... "this was taken when we wandered off the road..."
This is a fence to a home in the Bahamas that we pass every time we walk from the condos to the grocery store. I love it because it shows the islands as a home, not just a resort tourist-trap.
4. If you are using a DSLR, get protection filters for your lenses. In my opinion, this is a must for everyday- but an absolute when you travel. Filters will protect your glass from scratches and particles in the air such as dirt. They are an inexpensive investment to protect a very expensive lens.
5. Invest in a great point and shoot. I hate to say it, because I really do love what an expensive lens can do, but sometimes a P&S wins. When enjoying your experience rather than intruding upon it is in order, a P&S trumps a large lens.
Hiking is a perfect example.
I mentioned before that I use the Canon PowerShot SX230 HS and sometimes, I prefer to use it (GASP!). The point and shoot has wide angle capability that would otherwise require me to carry around something like the above: a 14 -24 mm. I LOVE that lens, but it's HUGE and can easily get in the way if we are on a hike.
This picture was taken recently while playing outdoors with a P&S.
5.5. Point and shoots are also great if you want pictures of yourself with others. It is much easier to give a stranger a point and shoot camera, rather than hand them a huge DSLR and try and show them how to work it. (I can't tell you how many times I've tried this, only to get a picture that has a random object in focus and not us!)
6. Day & Night. If you are in the same area from day to night, take advantage of it! Pay attention to things during the day that you would want to capture at night; lights, reflections, buildings, etc. OR things at night you want to see during the day!
The only reason I knew to get this shot at night, is because we passed the spot during the day and I knew the reflections would be so much more colorful in the nightscape.
If you are planing on riding a bus through Yellowstone and stopping at each scene, bring a large wider lens. It won't get in the way since you aren't doing anything! However, if you are going shopping all day in a bustling city, carrying a large camera will be cumbersome.
8. Be kind. Be considerate to others who are trying to shoot the same shot. Especially places like popular landmarks, many people (of every skill level) will be trying to get that exact shot. Instead of using elbows, start a conversation with some of them. Chances are, you'll discover additional places to capture some great images.
- online storage (Google's Picasa is free and great for temporary use)
- bring your laptop
- store your memory cards in their plastic containers to protect them from damage
10. Be smart. It's no secret that camera equipment is expensive, so if you are going to carry it around in foreign places, you need to be smart. When we were in Cleveland a few months ago, I wandered around the city with no idea where I was headed. At times, I had to put my camera away to be on the safe side because I wasn't familiar enough with my surroundings.
11. As in everything, the more you practice, the better you will become. Meaning, the more you get used to walking around with a camera in hand, seeing different angles you want to capture, and noticing different light, the easier it will be. You'll get comfortable with holding a larger camera in your hand while walking around crowded areas, or more confident in simply using a point and shoot when rock climbing.
I have to remind myself sometimes that I'm not making memories by keeping a camera in my face the entire time. Sometime's it is best to set it down and take it in with your eyes first.